Read these 43 Play Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Parent tips and hundreds of other topics.
If the weather is not cooperating, but your kids would love to play in the snow, you can have a snowball fight indoors. Take some recycled paper, and crumple it up into "snowballs". The kids will have a blast throwing the snowballs at each other, and no one gets cold or wet. Be sure to play this in a safe area of the house where nothing will get broken. Safe the snowballs for future use, or recycle the paper.
Here's a fun activity for those hot days when the kids want to play outside in the water—host a car wash. If the kids are too little to wash your car, let them have a mini car wash and wash their own cars. Give them a bucket or plastic dishpan of soapy water and let them wash their riding toys, or other toys they may have that are washable (balls, plastic squeeze toys, play cars and trucks, etc.). They will have fun doing it and it will save you the job of cleaning them yourself. Make sure they wear some clothes you don't mind them getting wet in. Who said cleaning can't be fun?
A fun and inexpensive way to decorate a playroom or child's bedroom is to use chalkboard paint on the walls. You can paint and entire wall, or several walls at your child's level. It is as simple as painting the wall, and the kids get hours of fun, and can finally really write on the walls!
Looking for something different to do? Have the kids put on some nice picture-taking clothes and hit the local sites. Pretend like you are tourists from out of town checking out the local attractions. Take pictures of the kids in all sorts of interesting poses, such as those seen in magazines. They will have fun being models and you will have some priceless moments captured on film. You don't have to take a trip to some exotic place to take pictures. Look around in your own backyard for some good background shots. Grab your camera and go! Years later you will be glad you did.
To prevent boredom in small children, decorate a special box to hold index cards. On each card, name a different activity that is quick and doesn't require a lot of setup. Eg) play ring-around-rosy, read a book, put on a puppet show, etc. When boredom strikes, let your little ones take turns picking a card and leading the activity. It's fun for the kids, and prevents playtime from becoming a chore for you.
Teach your children that strangers on the Internet are no different from strangers on the street, on the phone, or at the mall. Emphasize to your children never to release private information, such as credit card numbers, home address, computer passwords, or other private family information ot strangers.
To make magnetic paper dolls, take several photos of your child in the same pose, one wearing a bathing suit, and the rest in favorite outfits. Trim away excess from the bathing suit photo, this is your doll. Cut the clothing out from the other photos, for dressing your doll. Add photo magnets to the back of each picture, and place them on your fridge.
If your child is having trouble sharing his toys during play dates, allow him to choose some special toys to put aside before the date arrives. Asking him to share everything he owns is unreasonable, and this way he still feels in control. After all, do you share all your favorite things with your company?
Before school ends for the year, get your kids to make a list of their friends and their phone numbers. Over the summer, your kids can phone their friends for an impromptu game of baseball or a trip to the park. This will help everyone keep in touch, and make the transistion back to school in the fall much easier.
For a great way to encourage your little ones into hours of imaginative play, here is an easy way to make a homemade puppet theatre. Just place a spring rod with a simple curtain in a doorway and you've got a stage. The height is adjustable for kids of varying height, and it is easily removable and packs up great for storage.
Some Internet filters deny access to sites using certain keywords, but some products allow parents to review and change keywords to create their own customized list. The drawback to keyword blocking is that the technology can't discriminate between genuinely unsuitable sites and innocent ones. Software programmed to avoid the keyword "smoking" for example, could also filter out educational anti-smoking sites, and even sites devoted to geology ("smoking volcanoes") or magic ("smoke and mirrors").
Wash and save lids from frozen juice concentrate. Using photos or magazine pictures of your choice, find matching sets. You may use photo doubles, or photocopy pictures. Cut each photo to size, cover with clear Con-Tact paper, and glue it to a lid. If you use photos of far-away family or friends, it is an ideal activity to keep memories fresh. Kids will love sorting through the photos to find matches.
To make dressing up for the cold and going out to play in the snow a more enjoyable experience, try tossing the kids snowsuits and mitts, etc. into the dryer for a few minutes before having them put them on. The clothing will feel snuggly and warm, and the kids will enjoy putting them on. They may even stay outside a little longer without getting cold.
To improve your child's balance and motor skills, play a simple game called "resist me". Have your child sit cross-legged on the floor. Gently press on your child and say "I'm going to push you over, resist me". Try pressing in various directions. Also try doing this with your child on all fours, on his/her back, on tummy, on one knee, standing and squatting.
When working with your young child on the computer, sit your child on your lap and do the work together. Put your hand on hers to demonstrate the use of the mouse, and never leave your child unattended. Test any software ahead of time so that you know how it works, and there won't be any frustrating down time when you are working together.
To help limit your child's weekly TV intake, first decide how much time your child is allowed to watch. Depending on your child's age, this is a good thing to decide together. Then, give your child one poker chip for each 1/2 hour they can watch that week. Whenever they want to watch, they must cash in some chips. When the chips run out, there is no more TV that week. For added incentive, you may offer a quarter for every chip that isn't used at the end of the week. If your child wants to save money for something special, they simply need to cut down on TV time.
Be aware whenever your children are online and surfing the internet. Put your computer in a room where the family frequently gathers. If your children are young, remain in the room while they are exploring the Internet and check frequently to see what they are doing.
A handy way to limit kids TV or video game time is to use the sleep timer on the TV. Set it for the length of time you allow your kids to watch, eg) 60 minutes. The TV will warn them when their time is almost up, and the TV will shut off automatically. This should help cut out fussing and "5 more minutes!!".
Try to think of your child's TV viewing as a mental diet. Educational programming can be considered healthy fare, and uneducational shows as junk food and candy - occasional treats. Remember to ensure that your child does not "overeat", or spend too many hours in front of the TV.
For a great indoor activity, make your kids an indoor hopscotch mat. Use a piece of linoleum, (your own left-over, or pieces can be purchased at building supply stores) if possible, use a piece that contains squares. Using a permanent marker and a yardstick, draw out the hopscotch squares. Bound the edges with duct tape to prevent rips or tears. The mat can be easily rolled up when not in use, and can provide a little indoor exercise on a rainy day.
If your young kids are starting to use your computer, there are some precautions you should take. Be sure to back up everything in your computer system before letting your child near the keyboard. Always have kids wash their hands prior to computer use, and don't allow any eating or drinking near it. Also, an investment in a plastic keyboard protector may be a wise one.
You can monitor your child's activity on the Web with a snooping software that will scan your hard disks for evidence that someone in your household has been accessing objectionable material. If any is found, it will prepare a report and let you easily view the information it finds. Visit www.solidoak.com/parentinfo.htm
To start your child at the optimal time to introduce them to computers, begin when they are between 2.5 and 5 years old. During this period, a child's vocabulary and attention span are increasing, and she has developed the necessary motor skills and eye-hand coordination to manipulate a mouse and keyboard.
Keeping busy over the summer is especially important for younger kids who are getting ready to start a full day of school in the fall. Keep them involved in social activities and build a regular routine. It is not necessary to do school-like activities, such as worksheets, but is important to keep them busy between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
If your child has been invited to a sleepover and you are unsure if he/she is ready, here are a few pointers to consider.
- Is your child independent enough to tie shoes, cut own food, make bed, etc.?
- Is your child vocal enough to ask for something she needs or express her feelings?
- Is he comfortable with the friend's parents?
If you answer yes to all the above, your child should be ready to try a sleepover, but be sure to be at home, and assure him you will come get him if he phones you anytime during the night.
Once your child has outgrown his kiddie pool, you may want to recycle it by turning it into a child-sized garden. Your child can choose what to plant in it, and be responsible for watering and weeding. Gardening is a great family activity, and kids love to eat what they grew, even vegetables!
A really fun and useful indoor toy for children of all ages can be an exercise trampoline. They are small, portable and can be used in any room of the house, playroom or child's room. I have one in the playroom, and my kids often watch an entire TV show while bouncing, particularly if there is music on the show. Parents can also benefit, and use it for exercising. No more couch potatoes!!
If you live in a space-conscious home, and are unable to have a traditional sand box, a plastic container with a cover (usually used for under the bed storage) serves the purpose well. It is big enough for fun, yet small enough for easy storage. (This can also work for a water table).